September 2019 — A Wrap-Up


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Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood and the Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi

I would have bought all the propaganda against the revolution. I really would have. Except for these two things. One, the author didn’t wasn’t heroic or patriotic, she came across as a petulant child. And what’s more, she showed no signs of growing up! Her behavior and petty struggles annoyed me when her countrywomen were going through so much bigger shit.

Even so , the parts about experimenting, not being too hard on yourself, and staying true to your roots were nice and resonated with me.

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Cover Her Face by P.D. James

With the same masterful way of describing people’s hidden motivations, PD James uses this book to introduce her iconic creations, Adam Dagliesh. It was nice to see one of my favorite detectives making their debut.

The mystery involves the murder of a single mother who is the maid to the Maxie family. She is strangled in her room and as Adam solves the mystery of her murder, other secrets come out that provide the readers with many red herrings and much entertainment.

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Archangel’s Storm by Nalini Singh

A battle-hardened warrior who has only known betrayal and a heroine who has lived in darkness but manages to stay innocent and optimistic. Sound familiar? All the books in this series have the same structure. But since I keep going back to the series, I can’t complain. What sticks around in my memory aren’t the copious sex scenes or the formulaic skeleton of the stories. It is the humor and the platonic relationships forged that make these books damn near un-put-down-able. Hence, I intend to keep reading them as long as the author keeps writing them.

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Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce

Except for a very troubling relationship that Beka enters into, this book is almost as good as the first installment. And why shouldn’t it be? After all, it features:

A female protagonist who is ready to take on the bad guys on their turf. And she’s smart too!

A transgender character who is just amazeballs, not taking shit from anybody or helpless, and just so memorable.

A several interlocked series-deep fantasy setting with great worldbuilding.

A mystery to solve!

Mastiff (Beka Cooper, #3)

Mastiff by Tamora Pierce

A dark mystery, political machinations, and a beloved female character growing up and coming into her own make up the plot of this book. I also liked that the author matched the pacing with that of the previous books in this trilogy.

Now for the negatives: Turnstall’s betrayal is so out of character for him that it is unbelievable. The same is true for Beka being in an abusive relationship, particularly when she has seen what it did to her mother.

Read the review of the first book in this trilogy here.

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The Lion and the Rose by Kate Quinn

The Borgia drama continues in this one. Siblings fight for more power or wealth. The Pope is blind to the faults of his children. Leo investigates a serial killer. Giulia wakes up from the dream that her life has been so far and faces reality. Her “husband” remains the spineless fop that he is. A much darker book than the first one but with a cute, sweet ending.

Find the review of the first book in this duology here.

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Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch

Yet another great read for me this month. Grant is inexperienced and learning how to be a wizard while having to constantly field curve balls that his training didn’t prepare him for. The humor is good, the main character likable, and the mysteries he solves are interesting. I knew this was a series that I’d continue as soon as I started reading the first book.
In this installment, Grant is following a murderer who leaves behind magical remnants of jazz music. He catches the murderer only to find out they weren’t really to blame.


I just wanna say bring on the next book!

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Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales by Tamora Pierce

A fun anthology that Tortall fans will enjoy!

Student of Ostriches

A girl trains herself to run and fight while watching different animals. She then uses her skills to get herself out of a patriarchy-favoring situation.

Elder Brother

Remember that wizard that Numair turned into a tree? Well, a tree had to turn human to make that possible. We follow that newly turned human on its adventure in this story. Another story that brings the consequences of Tortall’s good guys to light.

The Hidden Girl

A story about religion and propaganda without there being much effort to hide that it is based on Islam. Mixed feelings about this one obviously.

Nawat

I’ve always felt like poor Nawat got worst off in his relationship with Aly. In this one, we see the couple have kids. The crows are doing their best to disown Nawat because he’s too human and he isn’t human enough for the people. More importantly, his kids’ lives might be in danger due to the corvid practice of killing runts!

The Dragon’s Tale

Kitten. the dragon, goes on an adventure and rescues an outcast.

Lost

An abusive father meets his match when darklings come to his son’s rescue and change their lives forever. I like how this connects to the bigger picture of the Tortall Universe.

Time of Proving

Since I don’t even remember this one, I’ll chalk it to being forgetful enough to leave an impression.

Plain Magic

A peddler finds a new apprentice in an interesting story. Reminded me of Padan Fain from the WoT series — back when he used to be sane and human!

Mimic

A girl rescues what she thought was a lizard. A classic fantasy morsel.

Huntress

A bit out of the Tortall wheelhouse since it is based on the Greek pantheon. A girl falls in with a very wrong crowd.

Testing

A foster home story but with a twist because it isn’t the housemother doing the approval but the kids!

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Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

Review here.

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Diamond Fire by Ilona Andrews

Some might say that the Andrews’ books are formulaic. I’d agree with them. For instance, the male leads are actually not chauvinistic babies and revel in the talents and skills of their mates. If you asked me to differentiate between Curran and Rogan, I’ll say they are the same guy. But if the same people also said these books aren’t fun, they’d get a black eye!
Another installment — a novella this time — that celebrates the importance of familial love and support. Nevada was being a bridezilla, which I found very unlike her and kept rubbing me the wrong way. So, it was up to her sister, Catalina, to solve a mystery and make sure her sister’s wedding went without a hitch.

Can’t wait to read about the next brawl the Baylors will get themselves into!

The reviews of the other books in the Hidden Legacy series are here.

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Archangel’s Legion by Nalini Singh

Hmmm… I have to say the prospect of reading another book that focused on the main couple, Elena and Raphael, did not sit well. But this one had more depth to it, probably because it led to a huuuuge battle.
Finding out how the angels used Elena’s public appearances to keep up pretenses and distracted humans with a game of Angel Catch amused me to no end. If angels have been ruling humans for centuries, they would have some tricks up their sleeves.
The disagreements between Elena and Raphael over how he dismissive he was of mortals made them seem more real to me — just as the author intended for it to do.
More things that I didn’t like was being frequently inundated with all the sex. Yes, we get it. You two are the hottest thing under the sun, but maybe dial it down a notch. Or, have bunny-like sex all the time, but don’t make me read about it again and again?
Another thing that irked me were the just-in-time saves. I’m talking about a whole legion of angels showing up to turn the tide. I am sticking to my guns about this even though the author dropped hints right from the start about it. And about allies sending squadrons when they clearly said they didn’t have men to spare. Or Archangels just destroying the fighter jets before they reach their territory and so on.

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Bad Blood by L.A. Banks

Okay. So, this one was messy. I really appreciated the effort that the author put into world-building because it showed. But — and this is a big one — if you ask me what the difference was between a Shadow Wolf, a Were Wolf, and a Wolf, I’d be able to tell you nothing. Moreover, there was a lot of telling and flashbacks and both came across as info dumps.


What I did like was how the main characters realized their attraction to each other seconds after meeting wasn’t really practical. I also found the male lead refreshing since he didn’t demand the woman mate with him or not trust her to handle herself while literally in the enemy camp.


I do have reservations about a love triangle that seems to be brewing. But I’ll read the second book until I let myself be put off by it. The title also made me imagine Aunt Marge waggling a sausage finger at Harry and saying, Bad blood will out. But that is a minor quibble.


So yeah, like an idiot, I went and started off another new series. Now that I have though, I’m going to see it through.

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Archangel’s Shadows by Nalini Singh

Reviewed here

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Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

Ms. Caine’s writing sucks me in without fail. Whether she is writing about weather-controlling women with a lousy fashion sense or djinn-turned mortal women with ice blond hair, I am willing to listen. This one was no different, even if the premise is nothing like it had been for those other books.

Libraries, for us readers, are bastions of knowledge. Even after those who wrote their phenomenal texts or others acting as scribes preserved someone’s memorable words are dead and buried, the libraries guard the work they left behind. Libraries also make it available to the future generations — both the good and the bad.

Imagine, if all such houses of knowledge united under a central authority and started controlling what they treasure now. We’d have to say goodbye to new inventions because they may threaten the library’s station, including mass production of books and multiple copies of the same book. The pleasure of holding a book in your hands or owning it would become a crime. That’s the world this book is set in.

This Library did so much more, though. It kidnapped people with rare, special abilities and forcibly bred them. It had an army at its command. It razed countries that dared to question its authority. It punished those who ran rings that smuggled books to collectors, readers, and ink-eaters — yeah, it is a whole other gross thing. Oh, and as the final nail to a reader’s sensibilities, the author set the Library of Alexandria in the villain’s role. I lapped it all up greedily.

So far, everything was great. There was even a use of the fact that many human minds come up with similar ideas without having met the other thinkers. Factual case in point, Mendel and that other guy. Fictional case in point, Gutenberg’s Press and other characters from this book.

Now, if only I could connect with the protagonists. But I didn’t care about which of them died or who survived. To my Potter-riddled eyes, a black-robed professor sounded like Snape Lite. In my defense, that’s how he was introduced minus the Rickmanian hair flip. Later, he evolves into someone who gives a damn — see, very un-Snape-ish behavior! Even then, I found lukewarm concern for him when they arrested him.

To conclude, if you like a good story and think, to hell with the characters, then this book is for you! I review the second book here.

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Her cells might be immortal but the story of Henrietta Lacks didn’t come to light until much recently. With those tumorous cells, science has advanced by leaps and bounds and yet she never consented to their use in her life nor was she hailed for her contribution. The author describes how she reached out to Lacks’ family and told the story as they’d have wanted it told.

P.S. Anything you leave at a hospital, skin cells, nails, blood, etc. is technically no longer your property. Scary thought huh?

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The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories by P.D. James

Features four stories, The Mistletoe Murder, A Very Commonplace Murder, The Boxdale Inheritance, and The Twelve Clues of Christmas. The last two feature Adam Dalgliesh and all take place during or close to Christmas. They’re all intelligent, well-written, and short, so you will be done with the book in no time!

Reviews of the other Adam Dalgliesh books here.

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Archangel’s Enigma by Nalini Singh

Now that I have the bit between my teeth, I am devouring this series, book by book. The title is less of a hint and more of a declaration that this one was going to be about Naasir. A vampire who also dines on raw meat with feline tendencies, his was a character that immediately grabbed the attention of most readers. Ellie tried to puzzle him out in the previous books, but she didn’t get too far.

While Naasir’s origins as a chimera weren’t as mind-blowing, his connection to the Archangel in repose, Alexander, and his clearly insane brother, were great reveals — even if they tied in things too neatly. Besides his intriguing ways that separated Naasir from the other vampires — and members of the Seven — he was also written in a refreshing manner. Unlike only the female leads who feel unsure of themselves when entering into a relationship, Naasir had doubts too. I liked that he wasn’t sure of himself like Raphael, Dmitri, or even Janvier had been.

The whole Lijuan angle has become boring for me and I wish the author would wrap it up in the next book. She’s dead; she’s alive. She’s incorporeal; she’s corporeal. Vexing to say the least. I’m so ready for a new villain, even if it just the Cascade.

Find the reviews of other books in the Guild Hunter series here.


6 responses to “September 2019 — A Wrap-Up”

  1. Enjoyed these. I just finished reading SAPPHIRE FLAMES, the first Catalina novel by Ilona Andrews, and LOVED it. Alessandro and Catalina are great together! He’s like a James Bond of Magic:)

    Liked by 1 person

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